Corn futures closed with solid gains on Thursday. Spillover support from soybeans, lower South American corn production estimates and a bullish export sales report supported futures. Weekly export sales reported this morning were a marketing year high at 45.8 million bushels. March closed 13 cents higher at $3.71 1/4 and May was 12 3/4 cents higher at $3.81 1/2.



Soybean futures were strongly higher on Thursday. The market found support on forecasts for drier weather in Argentina next week. In addition the U.S. ag attache in Argentina and the Brazilian government lowered their soybean production estimates. Weekly export sales were below pre-report trade estimates at 12.4 million bushels of old-crop, but sales to China were slowed by Lunar New Year celebrations. March closed 30 1/2 cents higher at $9.80 and May was 29 1/2 cents higher at $9.83 1/4.



Wheat future ended with strong gains on Thursday. Spillover support from soybeans and corn along with firm outside markets helped push prices higher. Dry weather in China and the U.S. southern Plains could trim wheat production. Weekly export sales remain sluggish, but were improved last week at 12 million bushels of old-crop. CBOT March ended 19 1/2 cents higher at $5.61 3/4, KCBT March was 21 3/4 higher at $5.91 3/4 and MGE March closed 18 3/4 cents higher at $6.55 3/4.



Cattle futures closed higher on Thursday. Short-covering helped to support the market with the rally in the stock market also aiding the rally. Futures were lower this morning on the continued slide in boxed beef prices. At midday choice beef prices were down another 57 cents, hitting the lowest level since last April. The April contract ended 55 cents higher at $86.50 and June closed 38 cents higher at $84.05.



Lean hog futures settled lower again on Thursday with falling cash prices the main driving factor. Corn prices were higher and the stock market was up, developments that have helped to support hog futures at other times. However, the recent collapse in cash hog bids coupled with concerns about demand offset those positive factors. April closed 63 cents lower at $60.25 and June fell 83 cents to $72.53.